I thought I would do a quick highlight of our time in Rome, instead of going through this part of the trip day-by-day. So we reluctantly said goodbye to Siena Thursday morning,and started making our way to Rome in the hot Italian sun. Once we checked into our hotel, we did a quick tour of the Roman Forum as well as the Colosseum. The sun was really beating on us, even though it was already 6:00, so we went to take a shower and refresh before dinner (there was a theme of “rest and refresh” for these couple of days spent in Rome). We took a suggestion from the hotel, and went to a small trattoria up the street.
We all sat down and positioned ourselves so we could see the TV in the restaurant (Italy was playing Germany tonight in the semi-finals of the Euro Cup). I ordered Bumbolotti with sage, walnuts, and gorgonzola, all doused in a cream sauce. It was rich, decadent and full of flavor. The sage added its typical earthy flavor while the walnuts added a slight crunch and the gorgonzola added an extra buttery flavor with a slight bite at the end. Jamie and I then shared a plate of roasted potatoes they we enjoyed plain, and also used to wipe of the remaining bits of sauce on our plates. After we finished dinner, we went to a bar down the street to finish watching the soccer game. Italy won against Germany, and made it to the finals of the Euro Cup (something many people thought was highly unlikely). We left the bar, and people were subtly rejoicing, but by the time we got back to the hotel room, all of Rome was erupting in jubilation. Horns were honking, flags were being ripped off of buildings, and people were running triumphantly through the streets. It was a great way to start off our final days in Italy.
After enjoying some breakfast at the hotel, we set off to go on a double-decker bus tour of Rome. Our first stop was Piazza Venezia which is home to Trojan’s Market and the Victor Emmanuel II monument. Monument is said to look like a wedding cake from the sky, and we climbed to the top in the beating heat. Then we got back on the bus and enjoyed the nice ride through the streets until we got to the Spanish Steps and hopped off the bus again. We took pictures on the steps, walked to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed in coins for good luck, and then made our way to Piazza Navona. In Piazza Navona is where we discovered something that could only be described as heavenly – tartufo. Tartufo is an Italian ice-cream dessert made with rich, dark chocolate ice-cream, all coated in a hard chocolate shell. A cherry is hidden in the middle, while the top is finished with a crown of whip cream and a flaky wafer. We indulged silently in our ice-cream treats, closing our eyes with each bite as we succumbed to the ambrosial dessert. After finishing our midday snack, we headed back on the bus where we just enjoyed riding another loop around the city before going back to the hotel for another rest and refresh break.
After taking a cold shower, we headed out for dinner. We walked along the streets by our hotel in search for mussels (it was one of the girls birthdays, and this was her birthday request). Surprisingly, we ended up back at the same restaurant from the night before, but nobody was really complaining. This time, I ordered bruschetta to start, and tagliolini with black truffle sauce for my entrée. The earthy yet elegant mushroom added a satisfying sophistication to the dish which can only be described as simply delicious. It was a tough competitor to my pasta dish from the previous night. After dinner, we went back to the room once again before heading out for a night on the town.
We first went to an Ice Bar that was right around the corner from our hotel. Upon entering the bar, you’re given a heavy, down cape before they let you through the doors to the frosty party room. The doors transport you to a world of ice complete with mini-igloo’s and fur covered benches. The shorts and sandals didn’t suit the atmosphere too well, so we didn’t stay beyond our first drink. Then, we made our way across the Tiber River to a bookstore looking bar that had one specialty – chocolate shots. One has the option to choose from about 12 different concoctions. I got the Scappatella, a hazelnut liquored treat. After fully enjoying our chocolate shot experience, we went to the small shops set up along the river to explore. Bars, restaurants and vendors lined the walkway of the Tiber River. Once we walked the length of the river, we retreated back to our hotel to get some rest before our final day in Italy.
Jamie and I started our day off early so we could get a full day in at Vatican City without being rushed. As soon as we got there, we hopped on the ever-growing line to enter the basilica. About 40 minutes later, we were finally within the Vatican’s walls. We decided to climb the cupola, and 521 steps later, we were at the top overlooking the Vatican’s courtyard as well as magnificent views of the city of Rome. We made our way back down and went inside the basilica, and were both overwhelmed by the beauty of the church. After we toured around the basilica, Jamie and I met up with the rest of the group to go into the Vatican Museum. Jamie and I were already on a time crunch because we had a 3:30 tour of the underground Acropolis that lies underneath the Vatican – leaving us little time to go through the museum and see the Sistine Chapel.
Our journey through the museum became more like a race of who could get furthest in the line without getting dirty looks, and who was able to evade the security guards when slipping under ropes. Jamie and I made it to the Sistine Chapel with no time to spare, and unfortunately didn’t find the experience to be very enjoyable – not only were we on a time budget, but the Chapel was so loud and crowded that it made it difficult for anyone to enjoy. We finally made it to our Scalvi tour, and were excited with anticipation to see the underground city built for the dead. Streets, houses and gardens were hidden underneath the massive church and were impeccably preserved.
Jamie and I went back to the hotel for our afternoon rest and refresh before meeting our entire abroad group in Piazza Navona for a group dinner and our final activity of the whole trip. I, personally, was disappointed with the meal – it did not come close to our lunch at the monastery or even our past two dinners at the small restaurant by our hotel. Our
dinner was complete with an onion quiche and eggplant meatball, penne with sauce and bacon, pan-roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, and a rather potent tiramisu. Our second dessert made up for the dinner though – we went back for a second round of tartufo. We then walked around through the streets of Rome and wandered back to our hotel, before sullenly going to bed, knowing it was our last night in Italy.